After several years of public inconvenience and public money that’s down the drain, the deputy chief minister publicly declared that some flyovers need to be rectified.
A look into the present and the past follies
After many years of public inconvenience for commuters, the Deputy Chief Minister last week, finally publicly declared that faulty flyovers in Pune need to be fixed. While this implies crores of rupees of wasteful public expenditure that will now go down the drain, literally; it also would once again incur another exorbitant amount of money to rectify and reconstruct them. Is it a joke to undo and redo?
It would not be off the mark to comment that major flyovers in the city seemed to have benefitted only the contractors that built them or political leaders who may have got political mileage out of them.
Activists cried hoarse about the College of Agriculture flyover but the relevant public authorities lent a deaf ear.
The result? Even after several years of its existence, the flyover has sparse vehicles running on it, while the major arterial road under it – the Aundh Road – is jammed during peak hours as well as at other times.
The same goes for the Hinjewadi flyover. Office goers to the premier IT hub in Hinjewadi are stuck in long drawn traffic snarls under the flyover, which ironically hosts sparse traffic. The Hadapsar flyover is criticised for its T-junction design where traffic congestion is the norm of the day. Activists have also pointed out to the irrelevance of the Sancheti flyover. Not to mention the Swargate flyover this has barely given relief to commuters. Thus, instead of easing traffic congestion, Puneites are burdened with flyovers that are useless for their commuting convenience.
It’s the same story with the the elevated walkways too!
It’s the same story of throwing away public money, at the whims and fancies of the municipal administration and political leaders. Many would remember the elevated walkway across the Pune collectorate office. Hardly anyone used it so one fine day, it was demolished. Yet, they keep sprouting.
The Sarasbaug elevated walkway does not attract much pedestrian traffic as it is cumbersome for senior citizens and those with knee or back pain to climb it, as it is pretty steep. Similarly, the elevated walkway on Karve Road, near SNDT College, is also sparsely used by students who go walking to the several schools in the area and; it is tough for those students who go on bicycles to carry the bicycles over the steps of the walkway.
Recently, a smart walkway has been constructed by the Pune Cantonment, on the road from Golibar Maidan to East Street, near Pulgate. The objective is safety of school children going to the school in Solapur Bazar area as they have to cross the road which has vehicles speeding from Golibar Maidan side, even during the morning hours. During my morning walk around 7 am, I find that the walkway is hardly used – I’ve seen just one or two students use it, each time I pass it. The rest continue to risk crossing the road and there are many who do so. It results in a mini traffic jam with pedestrian students and those who are dropped by their parents on two-wheelers or come in a rickshaw congesting the road under the walkway. Despite, the history of pedestrians hesitating to use elevated walkways, the authorities continue to make them.
In sharp contrast, the subway at the Garware Flyover and the Pune Station is widely used as it is easily accessible for people of all ages.
Of course, here too the story is not hunkey-dory. Wonder why the subway on Jangli Maharaj Road near Modern School remains unused. All in all, it is the haphazard manner in which these public conveniences are made, without proper survey or homework.
Several activists like Sujit Patwardhan and Ranjit Gadgil of Parisar have been crying hoarse about the need to augment public transport, discourage private vehicles, and give more space for pedestrians and cyclists on roads. Flyovers they say is never the solution and we have seen it in several developed countries too which continue to face traffic jams despite multiple flyovers.
Perhaps, in its ambition to get the smart city status, the Pune Municipal Corporation has written an impressive note in its smart city vision document.
It reads: “All cities are facing serious traffic congestion problem. The root cause of the problem is rise in economic activity resulting in rapid increase in number of private vehicles on road. The rise in vehicle population is creating more and more problems for pedestrian movement on road, either in terms of waiting time, pollution or accidents.
The mistaken belief is that the traffic problem will get solved simply by suitably increasing the road capacity by implementing measures such as road widening, building new roads, flyovers etc. However such solutions are never found to be adequate as vehicle growth keeps on happening at a much faster rate.’’
Really? Let’s hope good sense prevails!
#All views expressed in this column are the authors and/or individuals quoted and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to the same.
That's Vinita Deshmukh, Senior journalist and RTI activist who believes in journalism that reflects the views and needs of the common man.
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